Mastering Arabic

by Jane Wightwick & Mahmoud Gaafarimgres-1
Hippocrene, 1990 & 2004
370 pages & 2 CDs, paperback
ISBN 978-0781810425

The Wightwick & Gaafar universe encompasses at least three decades, several publishers, and many editions (and some other languages). Note that this was first published in 1990, and the symbols in the book connecting text with audio tracks are actually little cassettes, and while on the CD the word ‘recording’ is used, in the book the word ‘tape’ is. Gaafar does the English narration and some of the Arabic. There are a number of voices; when plural nouns are being demonstrated, a chorus of voices recites them, a nice detail that may help the words stick in the memory.

I am guessing that the recordings have been updated for the newer editions but I do not know for sure.

The book is lots of fun: cartoons, various fonts, crosswords, etc.

Mastering Arabic has been updated since 1990 & 2004. There is now

Mastering Arabic 1 , with 2CDs, Hippocrene, 2008, ISBN 978-0781812382
Mastering Arabic 2, with 2 CDs, Hippocrene, 2010, ISBN 978-0781812542
and the book only ( covering 1 & 2? I don’t know) with a different cover and ISBN:
Mastering Arabic, Palgrave MacMillan, 2008, ISBN 0333490371
plus another one with an earlier date and another ISBN:
Mastering Arabic, Palgrave MacMillan, 1990, 978-0333490372
and the workbook Mastering Arabic 1: Practice for Beginners, Hippocrene, 2011, ISBN 978-0781812696

Which gives me a headache. I’d like to know more about what is what.


Arabic for Reading and Speaking

by Abdirashid A Mohamud616CXGLCgVL._SY300_
translated by Kathleen Luft
Barron’s, 2008
224 pages & CD, $24.99, paperback
ISBN 978-0764194276
Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭

Set out in blue and black text with a definite retro feel of workbooks from elementary school. Based on MSA. If you’re just getting to know the alphabet and vowel markings there are lots of fill-in-the-blank exercises for you. Some pages of vocabulary which look daunting to memorize. Vowel marks throughout. Interesting divertissement including recipes and puzzles. Some verb conjugations and a small dictionary in the back. This would be OK as a first book (with a bit of a steep learning curve) which might show you how you want to further your study.

On the CD 38 tracks include 20 which are listen and repeat exercises related to material in the book. The rest, also keyed to sections in the book, cover the usual, starting with the alphabet and going on to lessons in Greetings, Introductions, Meeting Someone and the like. I’m not a big fan of the voices, but I don’t totally dislike them either.

Originally published in German as PONS lernen & üben Arabisch in 2006.

Read and Speak Arabic for Beginners

by Jane Wightwick & Mahmood Gaafar514ElCqFvIL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_
McGraw Hill, 2010, paperback & CD, second edition
ISBN 978-0071729665
Rating: ✭✭✭✭

This is a package deal for someone starting out—book and CD. That’s Mahmood Gaafar on the CD, but not Jane Wightwick. I do like the sound of the woman, whoever she is. I think her voice reminds me of Melina Mercouri, which is a tad crazy, not the least because Mercouri was Greek.

The book is very unstuffy: games, drawings,  photographs, and eight pages of game cards and flash cards to cut out and play with.  Seven topics covered: What’s your name?, Where are you from?, What’s this?, Where is it?, What’s it like?, How do I get there?, Who’s this? and What do you do? There are two pages in the back on the alphabet and Arabic script, but I think I would want to have a little bit of practice before wading in here—the first hour or two might be a bit of a steep learning curve, although as you go through the book it’s nice gentle journey through various points of grammar.  Answers in the back.

Arabic Pronouns and Prepositions

by Otared Haidarpron
McGraw Hill, 2013
208 pages, $16, paperback
ISBN 9780071759731
Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ 

Practice Makes Perfect is a great series; you can’t go wrong with any of them. For those studying on their own: beginners who have a good grasp of the alphabet and can read a bit, and intermediate students. Prepositions can be tricky in Arabic; there is a nice section here on  the inseparable prepositions—single letters which do not stand ohaidar2alone and are attached to the following word. Also, prepositional phrases, dharf and more. The pronoun section covers subject, possessive and object pronouns. Letter size with lots of room for writing in answers and adding marginalia gleaned form other sources. Many great exercises; answer key in the back.

Otared Haider is an instructor in the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. She is also editor of the journal Mokarabat. 

Arabic Vocabulary

by Jane Wightwick & Mahmoud Gaafarvocab
McGraw Hill, 2013
202 pages, $16, paperback
ISBN 978-0071756396
Rating:  ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ 

Vocabulary and lots of it, divided into eleven chapters: Home and town, Family and friends, Describing this and that, Time, Eating and drinking, Education, Traveling and exploring, Shopping and selecting, Law and crime and justice, Business and politics, Happy planet.  Each further divided to focus in on the details. 145 exercises. Answers in the back. Vowel marks when needed.

As explained in the review of her audio work with Michel Thomas, I am a great fan of Wightwick’s work.

Embed from Getty Images

Arabic Verb Tenses

by Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar51dN9MiwJ0L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
McGraw Hill, 2012
294 pages, $18, paperback
ISBN 978-0071756365
Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ 

Terrific. Six main parts (divided into 26 chapters) covering Roots, Past Tense, Present/Future Tense, Forms of the Verb, Moods of the Verb and Other Aspects of the verb. Each chapter is further divided into a number of exercises many of which explain and offer examples of points of grammar. Answers in the back. Vowel marks where needed. I find some of it easy and some of it challenging. Great for someone studying on their own. Very good for someone in a formal course who JaneMahmoudwants to do more work on their own.

Mahmoud Gaafar has worked for Radio Cairo, the United Nations and a variety of Pan-Arab advertising companies.

Jane Wightwick is a graduate of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. She has worked for a number of schools and publishing houses both in the Arab World and in the UK.

Mastering Arabic 1 Activity Book

by Jane Wightwick & Mahmoud Gaafarmastering
Hippocrene Books, 2011
96 pages, $18, paperback
ISBN 978-0781812696
Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭  

Published as an addition to Mastering Arabic 1 (which is the revised version of Mastering Arabic) but you can use it alone as a review of beginner Arabic. Lots of games and various divertissement; I especially like the crossword puzzles. Also various arabic fonts; all of them readable, which gives practice in recognizing words in different typefaces. Some vowel markings. Answers in the back. Because I was introduced to the work of Jane Wightwick via her audio courses with Michel Thomas (you’ll see I’m a big fan of hers) I know her voice and on some pages here I imagine I can hear her.